For years, experts have warned against the dermatological consequences of sunbathing without adequate protection against cancer–causing rays. And while UVA radiation is the greatest culprit in malignant melanoma, studies now show that too little sunlight can actually raise disease risks.
Evidence suggests that vitamin D, delivered primarily through solar energy, guards against many conditions — including kidney, colon, prostate, and breast cancers — and promotes overall immune function. Some studies reveal a connection between vitamin D deficiencies and allergies, asthma, autoimmune disorders, and mental illness.
While the research is enlightening, it shouldn’t overshadow common sense. Bask wisely with these helpful hints:
- Have your vitamin D blood levels checked — this helps determine how much additional sunlight or supplements you may need.
- Start gradually. If you’ve been cloistered from the sun, spend a few minutes outside before 10 AM to limit intensity.
- Expose your arms and legs. Experts believe your skin needs sun on more than just face and hands to reap the therapeutic benefits of vitamin D conversion.
- The naturally darker your skin, the longer you need in the sun. Build up to about 20 minutes/day 3 times a week if you’re fair–skinned and up to about 2 hours if your complexion is darker. Your best assessment tool is redness — once you burn, vitamin D synthesis ends and damage begins.